School Improvement in Maryland

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 1.0 Political Science

Topic C. Protecting Rights and Maintaining Order

Indicator 3. Examine the principle of due process

Objective a. Identify how due process of law protects individuals

1.C.3.a, which introduces the concept of due process, is best taught in conjunction with the next objective, 1.C.3.b, which provides students with the opportunity to examine specific due process protections in the Constitution; and with 1.A.2.g, which requires students to “evaluate the Civil War Amendments and how they protected individual rights.”

Post on the screen or board the text of the Miranda warning police officers are required to read to criminal suspects when they are arrested. Give the students a few seconds to read the warning, or have it read aloud to the class. Ask the students where they might have heard these warnings read before, and ensure that each student in the class understands what Miranda warnings are and when they are used.(A discussion of Miranda warnings can be found here:*

Once the general context for their use is established, briefly “unpack” each component of the Miranda warnings by asking the students to explain their purpose. (For example, “Why do individuals who are under arrest have the right to remain silent?” “What might the police, and by extension the government, be able to do if suspects did not enjoy this right?” “Why do suspects have the right to an attorney?” “What might the police, and by extension the government, be able to do if individuals who are accused of crimes did not have this right?”) Finally, based on this analysis, ask the students to identify the purpose of the Miranda warnings in general. Lead the conversation so that the class ultimately concludes that the warnings are intended to ensure fairness in the criminal justice system so that the government does not retain unlimited power to throw individuals in prison without first following proper procedures. Tell the students that when government follows proper procedures, such as reading suspects their Miranda warnings, it is observing one of the most important principles in American government: due process of the law.

Distribute information organizers labeled “Due Process.” Include blank spaces on the organizers for the definition of the term, an explanation of why it is important, the two ways in which it is applied (to the content of laws as well as government actions), and examples of each type. Direct students to begin completing their information organizers during the ensuing class discussion.

Post the State Curriculum’s definition of due process on the board or screen for students to copy onto their organizers (this definition appears in the first sentence of the content explanation for this objective). As needed, clarify the meaning of the term “arbitrary” and ask students to restate the due process definition in their own words. Referring to the preceding discussion of Miranda rights, ask the students if they can identify additional examples of the government following proper procedures before taking away individuals’ life, liberty, or property (examples might include the requirement that police must have a warrant before searching property, or that defendants must be convicted by a jury before serving prison time). Then ask students if they can explain in their own words the importance of due process. Once a sufficient explanation is heard, record it on the board or screen and direct students to complete the appropriate box in their organizers.

Tell the students that due process means two different things: that government must follow fair procedures and pass fair laws. Provide pairs of students with a scrambled list of examples of each type (possibly from early U.S. History), and direct pairs to categorize the examples accordingly. Direct students to record the definitions and list examples of each application of due process on their organizers.

As a wrap up activity, have the students respond in journals to this prompt: “How does due process protect my individual rights?”

*Please note that Maryland students are not formally required to learn about Miranda warnings until their high school Government course. In this lesson seed, Miranda warnings are discussed so that students can receive introduction to the concept of due process in a context that is both interesting and familiar to them.

Resources for Objective 1.C.3.a:
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